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Designing new work bench and am looking for material design recommendations

Joshua Nicoll

Plastic
Joined
Dec 19, 2020
Hello folks, I'm looking to design and build a new steel workbench for my small shop, spurred on by a recent purchase of a cheap 8x16 mini lathe. I've decided to build the bench in 3 main areas, one of which on the far right will have the lathe firmly bolted down, and I planned to build that part only loosely connected as the middle part of the bench is for welding. Obviously for welding I want a bench thickness of at least 5mm (1/4") to prevent warping for as long as possible, and the frame doesn't have to be particularly sturdy, the most I'd be doing on it are short welds at no more than 260 amps (that sounds like a lot but really none of the welds last more than 2 minutes) and usually I'm under 100 amps.

However for the part that'll have the lathe mounted, should I get a much thicker top (maybe 8-10mm, under 1/2") and support under it, or should I only focus on the support structure and put a lot of extra trussing at various angles to ensure it can resist twisting loads or would both help? Oviously these tiny lathes need every little bit of support from what they're bolted to maintain square and ridigity, or is that overkill and a basic bench with 4 3mmx25mm (1/8" x 1") angle irons for legs with a square tubing top work as well or would getting 6mmx60mm (1/4" x2 1/4") square tubing and adding a lot of cross dimentional supports work better. I'd also have to avoid overwelding the frame as that might warp it, but that might be worth the trade off for rigidity as slight warping can be tolerated but I'd prefer as little as possible since shimming under the lathe to level it would defeat the purpose of maximun rigidity.

TL:DR I want to make a bench for welding with another one beside it, only bolted to the other to prevent warping, for mounting a 8x16 mini lathe, and wanted people opinions on how thick the steel should be.

Sorry for the metric but that's what I use predominently, but sometimes work in imperial.
 

turnworks

Aluminum
Joined
Dec 12, 2018
Bypassing the additional thing on the table but I prefer 1/2" or thicker mild steel grid hole pattern welding tables.

1/2-13 holes on 2" centers so you can use mill hold down kits and clamp parts in almost any way imaginable. Not fast to make but with proper lay out and a mag drill its not too bad. Steel tubing frame underneath then stitch weld the plate or plates on.

2nd choice for a welding table is a grid pattern of I beam. Again takes some time to make but the ability to clamp almost anywhere with c clamps is very nice.

If you just need a place to put a part and weld it without clamping then I prefer aluminum plate.
 

Strostkovy

Stainless
Joined
Oct 29, 2017
You want a thick steel welding table, and a separate work bench. My personal go to is a solid construction of dimensional lumber, topped with plywood, and with a layer of 1/8" aluminum on top. The aluminum is durable but less prone to scratching things and is nonmagnetic.
 

drcoelho

Stainless
Joined
Feb 19, 2017
Location
Los Altos
I believe this is what the OP has in mind:

IMG_6606.jpg

The tables are 3ft x 5ft, have 1" thick A36 steel tops blanchard ground to 0.001" flatness, and weigh 2000 lb each. And you'll notice the cute little 9" south bend lathe, and the cute little Burke No 4 milling machine sitting on top. THAT was my original idea before I knew what I was doing.

The little lathe and little mill are now in storage, long since replaced by professional machines. BUT, the tables are most definately in use. I installed CNC cut 22mm straight through holes on a diagonal pattern every 100mm on center, intertwined with 16mm threaded through holes again on 100mm center diagonal pattern over the entire table top. The 22mm pattern allows me to use Siegmund welding accessories for setting up welding, and the threaded holes allow me to attach all manner of accessories to the table via fixture plates.

And yes, per previous posts, do not intermix your lathe with welding, keep those activities well away from each other....thus I don't see any problem having a work table that does multiple duty as welding and general purpose work table, but would put the lathe on a different table.
 

Joshua Nicoll

Plastic
Joined
Dec 19, 2020
Clamping to the table would be nice for one off parts, most other parts I make sorta regularly are clamped to jigs so don't need to be clamped to a table, I have seen the welding tables with the grid of holes that you can clamp to, which would be nice, but not totally necessary. I suppose going with 10mm plate for all of the top surfaces would make this last longer and make clamping easier, I'll probably go with that.
 

Joshua Nicoll

Plastic
Joined
Dec 19, 2020
Your gonna put a minilathe on a welding table ???

and be welding right next to it ?

No, the welding table would be beside the minilathe bench, but they'd only be connected via bolts to keep them together when installed. I don't have room for them to be particularly far from each other but it's not TIG welding produces spatter or smoke anyways so wouldn't be too much of an issue. There would be separation of over 2 feet anyways.
 

Joshua Nicoll

Plastic
Joined
Dec 19, 2020
You want a thick steel welding table, and a separate work bench. My personal go to is a solid construction of dimensional lumber, topped with plywood, and with a layer of 1/8" aluminum on top. The aluminum is durable but less prone to scratching things and is nonmagnetic.

I hate wood for benches as they're is a decent amount of flex in it and it isn't really suitable where I live, little bit too damp, as it is I have to paint or oil metal parts to stop them from rusting, wood would just be a nightmare. Ultimately the two benchs will be separate but beside one another, though I could put an aluminium top on the bench for the lathe but there would still be steel under it for structural support, my main concern is keeping it from flexing.
 

Joshua Nicoll

Plastic
Joined
Dec 19, 2020
I believe this is what the OP has in mind:

View attachment 308270

The tables are 3ft x 5ft, have 1" thick A36 steel tops blanchard ground to 0.001" flatness, and weigh 2000 lb each. And you'll notice the cute little 9" south bend lathe, and the cute little Burke No 4 milling machine sitting on top. THAT was my original idea before I knew what I was doing.

The little lathe and little mill are now in storage, long since replaced by professional machines. BUT, the tables are most definately in use. I installed CNC cut 22mm straight through holes on a diagonal pattern every 100mm on center, intertwined with 16mm threaded through holes again on 100mm center diagonal pattern over the entire table top. The 22mm pattern allows me to use Siegmund welding accessories for setting up welding, and the threaded holes allow me to attach all manner of accessories to the table via fixture plates.

And yes, per previous posts, do not intermix your lathe with welding, keep those activities well away from each other....thus I don't see any problem having a work table that does multiple duty as welding and general purpose work table, but would put the lathe on a different table.

Pretty much like that but smaller and with more trussing underneat. Perhaps not quite as thick as that as getting plates that thick into place would not be fun.
Sadly I don't have the room to keep the activities away from each other, my shop is not very big and they're is nothing I can do about that, however I only TIG weld so I'm not that worried, if I need to I can always put a separator plate between the two tables/benches, but they're not gonna be connected by anything more than bolts, and even those are just to keep them in line and and not look all wonky. The only thing the two benches will be share is that they're on the same side of the shop since and will be roughly be the same size on the outside dimentions, the welding table will have metal stock under it and the minilathe table will have an air compressor under it.
 

drcoelho

Stainless
Joined
Feb 19, 2017
Location
Los Altos
Pretty much like that but smaller and with more trussing underneat. Perhaps not quite as thick as that as getting plates that thick into place would not be fun.
Sadly I don't have the room to keep the activities away from each other, my shop is not very big and they're is nothing I can do about that, however I only TIG weld so I'm not that worried, if I need to I can always put a separator plate between the two tables/benches, but they're not gonna be connected by anything more than bolts, and even those are just to keep them in line and and not look all wonky. The only thing the two benches will be share is that they're on the same side of the shop since and will be roughly be the same size on the outside dimentions, the welding table will have metal stock under it and the minilathe table will have an air compressor under it.

FYI, no trusses needed for the design used on my tables, it is 100% 1/4" A36 steel throughout and is a box frame. The table tops are removable, which is convenient. And to deal with the weight you can notice the fork lift tubes near bottom of the tables.
 

Joshua Nicoll

Plastic
Joined
Dec 19, 2020
FYI, no trusses needed for the design used on my tables, it is 100% 1/4" A36 steel throughout and is a box frame. The table tops are removable, which is convenient. And to deal with the weight you can notice the fork lift tubes near bottom of the tables.

I don't own a forklift (my workshop is not even big enough to fix a forklift lol, it's quite small, maybe 6'x10') so for my version I'd be at most limited to 10mm thick steel. I'd be also using thinner metal tubes, maybe around the 2-3mm range, at most 1/8 thick in imperial measurment, or angle iron, depends what takes my fancy, though angle iron would definitely need trussing box section might not.
 

drcoelho

Stainless
Joined
Feb 19, 2017
Location
Los Altos
I don't own a forklift (my workshop is not even big enough to fix a forklift lol, it's quite small, maybe 6'x10') so for my version I'd be at most limited to 10mm thick steel. I'd be also using thinner metal tubes, maybe around the 2-3mm range, at most 1/8 thick in imperial measurment, or angle iron, depends what takes my fancy, though angle iron would definitely need trussing box section might not.

Given your small space, you might consider putting shelving or drawers below the work surfaces, good to use every space possible for storage. Also, I suggest you put the tables and everything else on rollers if possible. Zambus (shown on my tables) makes very nice rollers that have a feature allowing for self-levelling and locking the rollers.
 

Joshua Nicoll

Plastic
Joined
Dec 19, 2020
Given your small space, you might consider putting shelving or drawers below the work surfaces, good to use every space possible for storage. Also, I suggest you put the tables and everything else on rollers if possible. Zambus (shown on my tables) makes very nice rollers that have a feature allowing for self-levelling and locking the rollers.

I planned th put shelves up on top of the benches and probably a draw directly below each one, with the corrisponding accessories for each one. On the other side is some shelving too, so hopwfully storage won't be an issue. By time I run out of space entirely I'll hopefully be moving to greener pastures with more room.
 








 
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